As we reported, just when everyone thought the re-hiring of the legendary Phil Jackson, for a 3rd time was a done deal, the Lakers up and gave the job to Mike D’Antoni.
Yes, it was a shocker and the prevailing reasons given and reported were that Jackson had asked for too much, including a stake in ownership, control over personnel decisions, and leeway on his travel schedule for road games. Given those demands, it appeared that the Lakers had made a sensible choice.
Jackson, however, paints a different picture of negotiations, one in which the Lakers manipulated the press and reneged on a handshake agreement that they would give Jackson until Monday to decide whether or not to move forward in negotiations. From Mike Bresnahan for the Los Angeles Times:
“Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach,” Jackson said.
“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.” […]
Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, added that media coverage portraying Jackson as being full of demands was inaccurate.
Musburger also spoke to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, making several comments about how Jackson deserves better treatment given all that he’s done over the years for the Lakers organization. But this particular media outreach is only part of the story.
For that and more on this story, go to Bleacher Report.